FOX let Swift Vets member Van Odell rehash debunked lies about Kerry

Van Odell, a member of the anti-Kerry group Swift Vets and POWs for Truth -- formerly Swift Boat Veterans for Truth -- repeated several long-discredited claims against Senator John Kerry on the October 15 edition of FOX News Channel's Hannity & Colmes.

  • FALSE CLAIM #1: Kerry “accused us of doing it [committing atrocities], as swift boat sailors.”
  • FACT: As Media Matters for America has repeatedly explained, Kerry made no such accusations. Swift Vets and POWs for Truth has grossly distorted Kerry's 1971 before the Senate foreign relations committee, in which he recounted the stories of other Vietnam veterans who returned to the U.S. and related their personal experiences in what was known as the Winter Soldier Investigation.

  • FALSE CLAIM #2: “We [Swift Vets and POWs for Truth] have over 64 people that eyewitnessed every one of these events and the news still says that it's uncorroborated.”
  • FACT: Though Swift Vets and POWs for Truth members have repeatedly claimed that Kerry is lying about his medals, they were not present for the incidents leading to Kerry's receipt of any of his medals or any of his three Purple Hearts. MMFA documented this fact on August 24, August 30, and October 18.

  • FALSE CLAIM #3: "[N]othing in that book [Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry] has been proved untrue."
  • FACT: Swift Boat Veterans for Truth (now known as Swift Vets and POWs for Truth) and the spurious claims they have made against Kerry have been thoroughly discredited by Media Matters for America, major newspapers, and a recent memo from Navy inspector general Vice Admiral Ronald Route. As MMFA has noted, multiple documents contradict the accusations made by Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and corroborate Kerry's version of events. As the Los Angeles Times reported on August 20: “Military documents and accounts of crewmates who did serve with Kerry support the view put forth by the candidate [Kerry] and his campaign -- that he acted courageously and came by his five medals honestly.”

  • FALSE CLAIM #4: There was no enemy fire during the incident that led to Kerry's third Purple Heart: “I was there and [Swift Vets and POWs for Truth member] Larry [Thurlow] was there, too. I didn't see any fire. Larry Thurlow agrees there was no fire.”
  • FACT: As MMFA has previously mentioned, The Washington Post and the Associated Press devoted entire articles to investigating the incident and concluded that documents uniformly contradict Swift Boat Veterans for Truth's allegations of no enemy fire and support Kerry's account of the incident that led to the Navy awarding him his third Purple Heart. According to an August 22 Post article: “On the core issue of whether Kerry was wounded under enemy fire, thereby qualifying for a third Purple Heart, the Navy records clearly favor Kerry.” The Associated Press reported: “Kerry's version is supported by others present at the time as well as by Navy documents.” Kerry's Bronze Star citation and the Navy " spot report" for the incident show that Kerry's boat did receive enemy fire. Even Thurlow's own Bronze Star citation and his award recommendation indicate that Kerry's boats received enemy fire, as both The Washington Post ("Records Counter a Critic of Kerry") and the Los Angeles Times ("Newfound Records Contradict Kerry Critic") reported. In addition, Kerry crewmate Jim Rassmann's firsthand account of events also supports Kerry's version. Rassmann stated: "[A]ll the swift boats had left, and I was alone taking fire from both banks," before Kerry returned to rescue him from the water.

  • FALSE CLAIM #5: Claims of enemy fire are based on “the document [an after-action report] written by John Kerry.”
  • FACT: As MMFA has noted, the claim by Odell and other Swift Boat Veterans for Truth members that Kerry wrote the after-action report indicating that there was enemy fire has been debunked. The initials that appear on the after-action report are KJW. Kerry's initials are JFK (John Forbes Kerry). Members of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth have claimed the “KJW” initials appearing on the report prove that Kerry wrote it, but as The Washington Post has noted, “It is unclear why this should be so, as Kerry's initials are JFK. A review of other Swift boat after-action reports at the Naval Historical Center here reveals several that include the initials 'KJW' but describe incidents at which Kerry was not present.” Thurlow's citation bears the signature of Vice Admiral “E.R. Zumwalt” and his award recommendation bears that of Commander “G. M. Elliott.”